Light Paintings

Came across this in my Recurring Concepts in Art reading…

Mary Corse: No, I called those light box pieces “light paintings,” even though they were three-dimensional. They were very thin, and I always thought that the essence of painting is not about the paint. I was more interested in the flatness, the light, and the space. To me that was what painting was about. It didn’t have to be made out of paint and canvas. It’s about the meaning and the experience.

I love how in the “Recurring Concepts in Art” class, I literally found how my own light art is itself, a recurring concept. LOL.

Future Scenarios: Polarization Data

For Week 3 discussion, our topic ended up being the current condition of political polarization in America. This polarization is manifested in several ongoing national debates of which we isolated three: climate change, gender issues (i.e. pay gap, etc), gun control — where people on the left and right of the ideological spectrum have had their views diverge over the past 20 years.

Graphic to show Gallup’s evidence of increased polarization by political identification:

Growing polarization as expressed through opinions of key issues:

Polarization as expressed in people’s confidence in major US institutions

PDS – Vectorsworks and New Lightworks

Immediate goals for PSD class on 14 Feb

Learn basic usage of vectorworks – make new lightwork interation on vectorworks

New Light Works:

  • will explore the use of aperture with LEDs
  • will involve three layers: bed of LEDs, aperture layer, projection surface
  • bed of LEDs will be for multiple project uses (including my XYZ project) so it will be made on flexible, transparent material. Probably vinyl.
  • aperture layer to be simple: black tape on clear plastic: probably vinyl.
  • projection surface will be X material, which has already been purchased.

To buy:

  • roll of vinyl

To design:

  • framework which holds all three elements

Plan, Goal, Vision, Dream


[immediate] PLAN (2-3 week timeframe): 

  • to build next light investigation tool (following the findings of my Pcomp final)
  • to experiment with this tool and then… wait for further instruction

GOAL (for project development studio – 3 month timeframe):

  • to continue my investigation into image creation with light using concepts developed during PComp and before ITP.
  • to have three or four good works to approach galleries by the end of the PDS
  • to have a better understanding of light’s properties through investigating it
  • to advance my understanding of of light as an artistic medium

VISION (1 timeframe): 

  • make 2018 my first run at galleries in the spring-time
  • make mistakes and errors and adjust my approaches in 2019 and 2020. (2020 is my final year I can be in NYC under my current international student visa).
  • make a name for myself with my light works
  • to make works and breakthroughs that surprise even me
  • to ride the current wave I am riding until its very end

DREAM (3-8 year timeframe):

  • to wake up every day and do what I want to do
  • to successfully transitions to a career as a artist.
  • to remain true to my vision without being a fool
  • to benefit humanity in some way
  • to position myself to be able to start a family

Project Development Studio – Lightworks: Past, Present & Future

Plan, Goal, Vision, Dream 

For the project development class with Danny Rozin, I will continue with my light work. Danny was my instructor for last semester’s Introduction to Physical Computation, and it is in that class that I heavily developed a new direction for my light work. I intend to use the project development studio to continue this line of work.

Currently my light work exists in two main directions.

(1) Light Paintings: The Bushwick Lightbox

The first direction is the light painting: an LED matrix projects on to a projective surface and forms images depending on the colour pattern that I program with the Arduino. I have worked on this first with a 100 pixel board I built in September 2016 and developed until January 2017, at which point I build a much larger, 2240 LED pixel board that could produce images of greater complexity. I could produce abstract images and paint directly with light: I could creates form using the same approach as oil painters: using blocks of colour to suggest form.

Over 2017, leading up to start of ITP I worked on abstract forms and experimented with different kinds of patterns. It created all sorts of patterns, both static and moving.

An example of a moving pattern:

A major breakthrough for me in this particular line of work occured in November 2017, when I finally was able to complete a figurative work on the lightbox, entitle Hommage to Rembrandt.

(2) The Lightcube: Light sculpture

PComp last semester was an occasion to develop my work in a new direction. Early on when I had just constructed the light board, I had no idea how to program it. (This was before I knew about using matrices). So I set the whole thing to two colours and hung a paper over it’s front, just to get a sense of it’s scale. To my surprise, the light refraction around the doubled piece of paper created a strikingly beautiful, luminous image.

While the blue of the LEDs were all one colour, multiple shades of colour showed up on the paper. This told me that the light of the LED interacted with objects between itself and the projective surface, including curving around objects. (Light refraction?)

This gave me the idea of using more opaque, obscuring materials to produce different light/darkness effects on the projective surface. However because it would involve motors and a degree of control of which I had no expertise, I did not learn how to bring this ideas to life until the PComp final in Nov-Dec 2017.

I created a lightcube (for lack of a better word) that did not create light images in the same way of the light painting, but rather relied on objects in between the light source and the projective surface to cast shadows and create images in this way. I arranged three blinds in between the LEDs and surface which were controlled by servo motors and created different patterns of light.

The patterns were noticeably different than the light paintings. They were more pronounced: the lights were lighter and the darks were darker. The “edges” of the light forms were more defined.

Getting the design and structure right took up the majority of time leading up to the ITP Winter Show in December 2017. The technical details occupied so much time that I didn’t get a real chance to work on the art of the light itself until the winter break.

Over the break, I truly investigated the image making potentials of the box and found that it was great in volumizing light. It really displayed what James Turrell refers to as the “thingness of light”.

Given that this light cube has become a three dimensional work, it could be termed “light sculpture” rather than the 2d light paintings. I have therefore begun to think about this line of work more in sculptural terms.

Going Forward

At the present moment, both areas of light-work and research remain ongoing. I have my work cut out for me on both fronts.

My priorities starting this semester are as follows:

On light sculpture:

  • constructing a new light sculpture to explore image creations.
  • right now, I see this line of work as a tool for exploring creation of images as much as I consider it an expressive work of art
  • continuing to creating images on the lightcube version 1.
  • new tool for exploration will be constructed around the following concept – investigating creating images with LEDs through one opening at different angles

On light painting:

  • I applied for a 3-month residency at, and proposed to create a gigantic 8×8 ft light painting for their main gallery space.
  • If I get the residency, I’ll think about use this project development studio, in part, to design how, technically, I can achieve this ambitious size light painting.
  • I would possibly blend the light painting with the light sculpture in some way





Recurring Concepts in Art: Week 1

I am very hopeful for what’s going to happen with the Recurring Concept in Art class, which I think is a much-needed compliment to the first semester tech-heavy courses that focus so much on the how but less on the what.

Not that there wasn’t any discussion of content in other ITP classes, but those discussions usually occurred on the margins (which is a good place) but it’s nice to have a class where the discussion of the what is the main objective of the class.

Georgia’s point about how new media is not to be divorced from the lineage of humankind’s artistic development and ideas struck a particular chord with me. In my own artistic practice thus far, an emerging theme is bringing up ideas of the past into forms of the new. My website’s artist statement discusses this very thing.

More deeply, I think the urge to find continuity in the old has a huge resonance of a large number of people who don’t like how modernity has a hard time finding value in anything that came before it. I think of Bill Maher’s conversation with Stephen Colbert on religion where he dismisses religion as “silly stories” and that he has nothing to learn from early people who “didn’t know what a germ or an atom was”.

I believe that this discussion of how the new is related to the old is bigger than art, but is reflected in art. It lies at the heart of many debates, including the merits/dangers of Artificial Intelligence, as well as debates on race, gender and postmodernism.

I also think the care given to discussing a particular work of art and contexualizing it in a particular place in time, and detailing all the societal forces that work upon and are worked upon by the piece of art is just critical to coming up with art that articulates vision.

“Vision is meaning, and meaning is historical.” –Nic Pizzolatto, True Detective Season 1 


ICM Final: The I Ching Machine

Link to final here:

After struggling with the Hero’s Journey YouTube Video Program as detailed in this past blog post, I was making process with the YouTube API, however I was not spending enough time on the creation of the video art work itself. Because the program was meant to be video art and not a design-led thing, it’s exact form would be determined as I completed it.

However, when user testing rolled around and one week till the end of finals, I decided that such a video art project was too ambitious despite the progress I had made with the API.

I then decided to pivot to a project that I had wanted to make for a while, which had a defined structure, and would be relatively do-able. This was the I Ching Machine.

The Concept

I’ve studied the I Ching, aka the Book of Changes, for several years. I have found, regardless of how it “works”, it has been helpful to me. The most mature human wisdom is found in the I Ching, whose images predate written history. The “modern” version of the I Ching is two thousand years old, and it boasts several thousands years worth of Confucian scholarship and commentary on the meaning of the images.

A while ago, I started to realize that the wisdom of the I Ching was not obscure knowledge contained in a book but rather it was wisdom assessable to us in every day life. The I Ching is not “Chinese” wisdom, it is human wisdom, and it variations can be seen in all time and all cultures. In the same way Joseph Campbell describes a singular, universal plot structure for all religious and folk myths of all human cultures of all times in The Hero With A Thousand Faces, so too the wisdom of the I Ching can be seen in our contemporary culture. The archetypes operate everywhere, always, under the veil of cultural specificity.

I therefore created an I Ching program in P5JS that used my prior work with YouTube to linked the fortunes given by the I Ching to specific YouTube clips that I hand-picked and believed to express the message of the hexagram.

Programming The Oracle

I programmed the P5JS I Ching program with the same instructions as one would consult the I Ching with coins. The steps are:

  1. Toss three coins and see if they land heads or tails (I used random(0,1) for this).
  2. Depending on how they land they are one of four possibility: broken-changing, unbroken-changing, unbroken-unchanging, broken-unchanging. These were represented either by a broken on broken rect drawn and a dot on the side if the lines were changing.
  3. The changing of the lines are a specific pattern of heads and tails that point of dynamic aspects of one’s situation. These in turn, change to their opposite to form a second hexagram. It is the interplay between the messages of the first and second hexagram, taken together, that generate the specific message to the user. I generated the second hexagram by storing the first hexagram in a lines[] array and the lines2[] array. I used the same drawing function for the second hexagram with a different x-value in order to position them beside each other.

When the hexagrams were stored in the lines[] arrays, I ran them through a function I created to name the hexagram based on the lines.x and lines.y object values. The values were x = b(broken) or ub(unbroken) and y = c(changing) or uc(unchanging). By the specific configuration of the array elements ,it corresponded to one of the 64 hexagrams of the I Ching (each hexagram is a chapter of commentary of a specific situation of change.

How I matched the YouTube Clips with I Ching

For instance, hexagram 51 is named The Arousing (Thunder). The message of the hexagram is:

“The shock that comes from the manifestation of God within the depths of the earth makes man afraid, but this fear of God is good, for joy and merriment can follow upon it. When a man has learned within his heart what fear and trembling mean, he is safeguarded against any terror produced by outside influences. Let the thunder roll and spread terror a hundred miles around: he remains so composed and reverent in spirit that the sacrificial rite is not interrupted. This is the spirit that must animate leaders and rulers of men-a profound inner seriousness from which all terrors glance off harmlessly.”

Pulp Fiction is one of my all-time favourite movies, and I reflected a lot of why this is. I believe the narrative of divine intervention that stopped Jules and Vincent from being killed in the first scene is what tied the entire movie together. Without it, I believe the movie would have been entertaining but lacking in depth.

It was the tale of change in a man’s outlook after experiencing the touch of God that led Jules to change his ways. It perfected described the essence of the hexagram’s philosophy above. As such, I chose it as suiting this I Ching passage.

It was only possible for me to choose all these youtube clips because I’ve had this idea kicking in my head for a while, and I am always on the looking for “archetypal movie scenes”. As such the I Ching machine in it’s current form is a patchwork of action movies, kung fu clips and music clips. The I Ching machine is a window into my own psyche, and another person’s I Ching machine will be completely different.

Technically, implementing the video was quite easy. I simply used an iFrame (which is much simpler than the YouTube API) and I destroyed the iFrame when the Second Hexagram video was pressed.

Conclusion and Next Steps. 

I am very happy with how the I Ching program turned out and I want to keep moving forward with it.

-I want this thing to show publicly at some point, and I want to link it to actually flipping coins in real life with the videos being shown by projector.

-I might explore putting it up in a webpage form on some subdomain of my website. Maybe or something.

-I might even open it up to I Ching forums to get the wider community to “make your own I Ching”

That’s about concludes it. Thanks for a great semester, Dano.





PComp Final | Final Concept & Production Schedule

October 24:

  • After letting play-test results settle in the back of my mind, I’ve decided upon the final PComp project concept, thereby resolving issues brought up in my last update.

Final Concept

  • I have decided to use Servos after all, as the only means of controlling the blinds. Unlike during play testing, users will not be allowed to control the blinds directly. I decided this after considering what I want the piece will be used for, beyond it’s existence as a PComp final.
  • The goal of the piece is primarily art. I want it to be an art piece whose primary function is to explore the creation of space using light. I want it to be geared towards being shown in an art gallery. As such, I intend to use this piece as a way to approach galleries. The final design of the piece will all support this goal.
  • User control will be narrowly defined. Unlike the prototype used during play testing, there will be no direct way for the beholder to spin the blinds that control the light/shadow effects. I decided this because the point of the piece is a nuanced exploration of light/shadow effects — however when users are given free control, they tended to spin the blinds around in a way that does not accord with this primary function.
  • There will be a minimal interactive element: a button that will allow the user to change patterns. However, there will be two modes, an auto mode (where patterns change automatically to a set schedule) and a manual mode, where users can press the button to display a new pattern.
  • I will be using one layer of blinds, given that its light/shadow/colour effect is the strongest. Later iterations may explore the second layer, but for now, one layer is sufficient complexity to present an impressive spectacle.
  • The piece will measure 8x8x8″. This decision was made after a tester suggested I use acrylic on the sides in addition to the front so that I could see the light effects on the side.
  • After experimenting with vellum paper on the sides, I discovered very impressive effects that took the piece to its esthetic conclusion, thereby settling my thoughts on the final form of the piece. It was this consideration, above all else, that allowed me to make the final decision on the servos and user interactions.
  • Micro-controller will be housed underneath the LED board, between another layer of MDF. I am using the Arduino UNO.

Final Production Schedule

  • The main structure of the piece is already complete, since I have the acrylic front panel, standoffs that comprise the main structure, and the LED board. Things that remain are:
  • A – Making the servo/blind system:
    • attaching servos to a piece of acrylic
    • laser cutting and bending a piece of acrylic so that it fits between standoffs and positions the servos for vertical-axis rotation of blinds
    • programming the servo system to display patterns of light/shadow
  • B – Making micro-controller housing:
    • Hooking up the LED board to an Arduino UNO.
    • Cutting a new 8×8 piece of MDF and attaching the UNO and other components to it.
    • Soldering a circuit board so that the UNO and the LED matrix are wired in a stable way (i.e. no jumper cables) and connection to a suitable wall wart power supply is as simple as plug-and-play.
  • C – Side panel material:
    • The light effects can be completely accomplished with Vellum paper on the side with a piece of clear acrylic underneath.
    • I will find a way to adhere the Vellum to the clear acrylic without using tape.
  • D – Make a button:
    • I will make a detachable button that attaches to the electronics housing that prompts users to be able to generate new patterns.
  • Precise schedule to be determined organically. But since I have only ICM and PComp as finals, it would take only a few days and I could finish ahead of schedule.
  • If I finish ahead of schedule, I plan to devote the extra time to programming the light/shadow patterns.